What God Wants (27-02-23)
Psalm of Praise: Psalms 109:30-31
With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord;
in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save their lives from those who would condemn them.
Bible Reading: Micah 6:6-8
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Writing at a similar time to Isaiah, a time when the Israelites were calling out to God from captivity in Babylon, Micah’s theme is similar to Isaiah’s when it comes to what God is looking for. God is less concerned about burnt offerings and sacrifices, than he is about our relationships with each other and, of course, with him. Micah asks, ‘What does the Lord require of you?’ to which he replies, ‘To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’
Justice is a hot subject in these days, whether it is about justice for minority groups, justice in our courts, justice for those struggling in the economic climate or justice for those seeking asylum and sanctuary. But justice is also important in our own relationships, it is about defending the marginalised and welcoming the stranger. It is about treating everyone the same, regardless of age, race, colour, faith, sexual orientation, ability or disability.
Mercy, on the other hand, seems to be a quality that is valued less and can often be seen as weakness and the opposite of justice, in the sense of ‘letting someone off the hook.’ But justice is also acting with compassion to those in need. Let us love mercy, for God has shown mercy to us.
In the Old Testament God’s sense of justice when his people sinned was met through the sacrifice of animals; there was a cost to pay. In the New Testament God’s sense of justice was met as he took the punishment on himself on the cross. But in both these situations, God’s concern is not for the sacrifice, but for the relationships that are restored through the sacrifice.
Which brings us onto God’s third requirement, that we walk humbly with him. Rich as we are, strong as we are, intelligent as we are, self-sufficient as we like to think we are, there is nothing we could do to put us right with God. Rather we have to turn to him in humility, on our knees, and accept his gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
What does God require of us today? ‘To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God’, not as a means earning salvation, but as a grateful response to the salvation we have received through the mercy and justice of God.
Lord God, in all that I do today and in the days to come, remind me to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with you.
His mercy is more